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I don't Want Any Pills

MadamPresident's picture

Princess Jefferson

I Don’t Want Any Pills


I don’t want any pills. Maybe this makes me crazy, that I will acknowledge the here and the now.  Maybe it doesn’t. I don’t want any pills to delude my way of thinking and make me a person of denial. So according to the therapist in “As the World Burns”, I am by his diagnosis, “Totally Fucked up”, and guess what, I am okay with this. Maybe society should join me and then we all could get totally fucked up and maybe then will we began to fully acknowledge the desiccation of our world, instead of taking pills to live in a bubble that only will eventually pop and leave us all exposed to what has actually been there the entire time. I don’t want any pills, maybe this makes me crazy. Well, Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.

I realize now that there is no escaping what is happening in the Earth; we are all interconnected, through microbes and the bacteria that we share.  Life has a funny way of bringing us back to the one thing that we try to run from and this can either be good or bad. So I now understand that I can only run for so long from the truth, we the human agents of destruction can no longer look away. I pondered the answer to Latour’s question, “How do you understand the active role of human agency not only in the construction of facts, but also in the very existence of the phenomena those facts, are trying to document?” I believe this answer is, do not take any pills, then, and only then can we allow our minds to open, acknowledge and accept what is happening. Then the next steps can occur: action.

            The topic of mental illness has been brought up in a couple of my classroom discussions and in one of these talks, I made the comment that everyone is a little crazy as a joke, but when I really think about it according to the definition of the term mental illness, everyone shares some underlying qualities. So maybe in the context of erratic thinking which is one of the side effect of mental illness, I am crazy. I am crazy because I choose to believe Latour, that the Earth is alive, and very much responsive to the damage that is being inflicted upon her. I am crazy because I choose to acknowledge that the act of deanimation and animation of the agency is real. I am crazy because I realize that Earth is slowly but surely dying and the acts of human agency to no avail are continuing to have long lasting detrimental effects upon the environment, some of which are irreversible. I am crazy, or am I just realistic.

Maybe I’m not crazy, one of the acts of being healthy is learning acceptance which is what I am choosing to do after reading Bruno Latour’s Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene, Jonathan Weiner’s Human Cells Make Up Only Half Our Bodies, and Jenson and McMillan’s As the World Burns. It’s time for the rest of the world to let down the veil of denial and stop taking pills. Pills are the very agents causing people look the other direction, dismiss “erratic” thinking, and allow people to ignore the very real feeling that they are having in response to the detriments of the environment. This made me think back to Teju Cole’s article, “White Savior in the industrial Complex,” because with in this article he speaks to the fact that when people see commercials that are sad their guilty consciences are affected and to ease their sense of guilt the first response is to send money, but even money cannot solve all of Man’s problems.

Ironically I will say that in the case of environmental efforts money is definitely a start. There are no sad commercials that appeal to the guilty consciences of the environment, and with some many people taking pills the option of turning to look away is heightened. Like I have said before people are aware of the harmful effects but because we are faced with a problem as complex the environment, we take a pill and hope that someone else will take on the challenge. But just as stated in the Collapse of Western Civilization, the time to act is now.  With the election of President Trump there is major discussion of change or termination of the NAFTA trade agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico. Which was supposed to deepen trilateral cooperation on a broad range of environmental issues, including illegal trade in hazardous wastes, endangered wildlife, and the elimination of certain toxic chemicals and pesticides. If this is terminated once again the Earth is left with no advocate.

Let’s all be crazy together and release our bodies of the denial pill. The time to act is now and unless a plan of action is made and followed through, like Latour said the Idea of an Earth without a human population will be a natural though. I don’t want any pills, I want the reality.




Works cited

Latour Bruno. “Agency at the Time of Anthropocene.” New Literary History 45, 1 (Winter 2014): 1-18

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, The Collapse of Civilization: A View from the Future. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. ix-52.

Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan, As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007).

Jonathan Weineraug, "Human Cells Make Up Only Half Our Bodies. A New Book Explains Why." New York Times, August 15, 2016.

NAFTA Archive. “What It Means to the US Consumer.” Accessed 4 December 2016. Direct Selling Education Foundation. 1998.




Anne Dalke's picture

Sorry, again, that I hadn’t read your essay before we met today; because of the change in our conference schedule, I was mixed up about what I needed to do. Anyhow, now I have done my reading and have a few comments!

You may remember that, when we met in Rhoads Common Room, both Toni and Ginneh spoke about being disturbed by the ways in which As the World Burns made fun of mental health concerns in general, and therapy in particular. You do something similar here, I think, in refusing “the denial pill,” medication that would “delude your way of thinking” and enable you to “live in a bubble,” ignoring “the real feelings” you have in response to environmental disaster.

I want to say two (contradictory!) things about your claims.

OTOH, I think that madness (what you call being crazy) can be a sign of wisdom, of someone who is dismissed for seeing the world differently than the majority does (“choosing to believe that the Earth is alive,” for example, as you do). Emily Dickinson wrote a wonderful poem about this, #620:

Much Madness is divinest Sense -

To a discerning Eye -

Much Sense - the starkest Madness -

’Tis the Majority

In this, as all, prevail -

Assent - and you are sane -

Demur - you’re straightway dangerous -

And handled with a Chain -

OTOH, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in mental illness in the thirty-some years I’ve worked at Bryn Mawr, and have also seen (in my students, my colleagues, my family members, myself) the ways in which medication can actually enable us to take on “the active role of human agency,” give us the energy we need to get better and pick up our work again. Taking pills isn’t always about shirking; it may be about “allowing our minds to open,” or about being realistic in accepting the obstacles we are facing.

Maybe a way to bring together these two thoughts is with Reinhold Neibuhr’s “Serenity Prayer” (which I betcha you know):

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Perhaps the debate we’ve entered at the very end of this course is about the search for wisdom to distinguish between what we can change, if we have courage enough, and what we must accept, as unchangeable. Not "crazy" at'all.

Working with you has given me lots of courage this semester!